Meet Carte’Are Gordon — the highest-rated prospect to pick an A-10 school in years

NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. -- Carte'Are Gordon knew what he was about to announce last October was unusual, if only because people kept telling him he shouldn't do it. And by people, I mean the list of college coaches who suggested, right to his face, that he was crazy to pass on offers from bigger schools in larger leagues to play for his hometown Saint Louis Billikens.

"Yeah, they were saying stuff like that all the time," Gordon said with a laugh in between games here at the Nike Peach Jam. "They were like 'You can't go to SLU!.' But I'm a St. Louis guy. And it's a great school with great people. So why not?"

Count Saint Louis coach Travis Ford among those not questioning it.

And the byproduct of Gordon's commitment is this: When National Signing Day comes in November, he will -- as the 38th-best prospect in the Class of 2018, according to 247 Sports -- become the highest-rated recruit to sign with Saint Louis since Larry Hughes in 1996, and the highest-rated recruit to sign with any Atlantic 10 program since Terry Larrier picked VCU four years ago.

So it's been a long time since this school, and a little while since this league, enrolled a prospect of this caliber. And that's precisely why Saint Louis fans are enthusiastic and optimistic despite the fact that the Billikens have been dreadful the past three years while Jim Crews coached his final two seasons and then left his successor, Ford, with something less than an adequate A-10 roster.

But good things started happening before Ford even coached a game.

First, Ford hired an assistant, Corey Tate, with strong ties to the local basketball scene last July. Then, just two weeks later, he secured a commitment from Jordan Goodwin -- a top-55 prospect from the Class of 2017 who lives only 19 miles from campus. Barely two months after that, Carter, who lives just 10 miles from campus, followed Goodwin's lead and also committed to Saint Louis, at which point Ford realized what he thought could be true was indeed very much true.

"St. Louis has great high school basketball -- and the kids have really close relationships with each other even though they may go to different schools and even play on different AAU teams, and they all have a real connection with the city of St. Louis " Ford said. "They have a real affection for St. Louis. They really wanna rep St. Louis. And so keeping the best players at home is a priority for us."

So far, it's working.

And let the record show Gordon insisted he doesn't just want to be the highest-rated prospect to enroll at Saint Louis in more than two decades. He said he also wants to be the inspiration for future elite prospects from the area to choose to stay home like so many other cities' top prospects have routinely done for decades upon decades.

"That's really important to me," Gordon said. "After I go there, hopefully other St. Louis kids will realize we can make our legacy at home. And that's the main goal -- to build a legacy at home and start something great at Saint Louis."

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Gary Parrish is an award-winning college basketball columnist and television analyst for CBS Sports who also hosts the highest-rated afternoon drive radio show in Memphis, where he lives with his wife... Full Bio

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